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Ask The Mayor: Terre Haute's Duke Bennett

Duke Bennett

In this week’s installment of Ask The Mayor, Indiana Newsdesk's Joe Hren visits Terre Haute's Duke Bennett at City Hall. The mayor talks about proposed state legislation, city improvement projects and the city's contract with Powerdyne.

Listen to their full conversation above. Here are some highlights:

Hren: I see you had a presentation with the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, which is why we are doing this show on Thursday this week, what was your message to them?

Bennett: The business community needs to know that local government is working efficiently, but they're also worried about the infrastructure and they're worried about workforce development. Things to support business is what the focus was, things we can do to make us stand out from other communities. When you share all the things we got done last year and all the things we plan to do this year, when you see it all at once, it makes them excited and makes them invest and be really glad they are here and how they can grow that business.

Hren: Last time we talked, the city was waiting for Powerdyne to officially announce a business deal that would take the city’s sewer sludge and convert it to diesel fuel for 20 years. What's the latest on the contract?

Bennett: We're working on re-doing some of the contract pieces, there were some concerns brought by some of the public, we'll put it that way and we want to make sure those things get answered correctly. When we sat down and worked on things a couple of years ago, some things have changed since then. Timelines have changed, some of the process, some of the players have changed a little bit. One of the companies got bought out by another company.

The only thing we're on the hook for on this is the sludge. We currently pay a company to take it away. We're going to pay a different company to take it away and then on the back end of that we have an opportunity to get some revenue on that because they need the sludge, they need us as a partner.

Hren: You've said that you are going to run for mayor again, knowing everything going on at the legislature, funding, budget problems - why run again?

Bennett: We got hammered, I mean that's the best I would put it. A lot worse than other communities. And it is difficult, it would have been much easier to be mayor any time in the past except the years I've been in office. I really feel like there are a lot of projects and things I want to get done, we're seeing a stabilization of those revenues now. But the next four years could be a lot more fun and a lot more engaging from that perspective.

One of those things is the overpass at 19th and Margaret. That should have been done years ago, that's our biggest bottle neck in the city and it looks like we're going to be able to start construction some time in 2016.

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